Sep 14, 2014

What do Startup CEOs do all Day?


Being a startup CEO is a tough job. I often get asked by friends/family what it is I have to do all day at the company, and I wanted to share some of my thoughts. By way of context, my company, Scripted.com, is a 33-person startup in San Francisco, which received Series A funding last year from Redpoint Ventures and Crosslink Capital. We have thousands of customers with a great product, so we are not a pre-revenue company.

The truth is, there really is no such thing as a "typical" day, but if I had to break down what it looks like for me, here's what I'd say are the biggies (this will vary drastically from CEO to CEO depending on company type/stage by the way)


20% Stand Out/Stay Relevant/Stay up to date on the industry - There are a lot of tech companies out there, and many of them are doing similar things to you. I always find it funny when entrepreneurs tell me they have "no competition" - everyone has competition these days and small teams can move extremely fast. You have to stand out from the crowd - in my particular space, content marketing, I can do a few things to stand out:

Write content on a regular basis
Speak at conferences
Take advantage of press/publicity opportunities to explain how we are different than others in the space
Stay up to date on the news on the space, and read as much as possible when I'm commuting - I need to be as smart as possible on the industry at all times

20% Hiring/Recruiting Great People - Team and culture are EVERYTHING when it comes to startups. I am constantly looking for great people I can work with, whether I'm hiring for a specific position or not. I met our current VP of Marketing at an event, when we weren't even hiring for marketing leadership at the time. You always have to keep your eye out for great people, develop the relationships, so when the time is right they will join your team.

This is the area where a strong advisory board, and board of directors can have a huge impact - great board members will help you recruit, and we've been lucky that all of our BOD members, Chris Moore from Redpoint, Eric Chin from Crosslink and Jon Miller (co-founder of Marketo) have been generous with their time to help us get great people in the door.


40% Data/Product I am extremely lucky to have a great engineering leader, Jake Kring, and a great product leader, Griffin Dormann. My main job in product is to know what the customer is saying both on the writer side and the buyer side (we are a two sided marketplace) to help inform what features are top priorities. Since I spend time outside of the walls of Scripted, I can communicate what I hear to both Griffin to Jake to give them a sense of not only where we need to go near term, but also long term. There are also internal product priorities, which Griffin and Jake constantly have their pulse on with the help of our great accounts team - I spend less time on those issues.

I do spend weekends looking at data to understand where and why customer satisfaction scores are low, or high, whether customers are using certain features of the product (why or why not) and whether recently released products are working/affecting retention. I'm biased toward looking at data because my background was mostly quant-type jobs before I started Scripted.

I also like to spend time with our marketing team, and understand whether our demand gen techniques are working to see if we are acquiring customers profitably. I am in Google Analytics and Mixpanel every day so I can dig in and understand the health of both sides of the marketplace. Both our marketing team and our sales team are very data-oriented which makes my job that much easier. They keep clean data at all times within Salesforce, Marketo, and other sources to make the analysis simple.

20% Misc. - The "miscellaneous" category is the most challenging because it can change so much. Some examples of things that fit in here:

Doing one-ones with staff to make sure their teams are doing well/they have what they need to be successful
Board meeting preparation, keeping investors apprised of the latest with the company so we can take full advantage of their connections/expertise
Having fun with the team - if we're all doing this and spending a lot of hours together, we should enjoy

Overall the job of startup CEO is not a straightforward one, and it's definitely not for everyone. You have to have an extremely high tolerance for ambiguity - one day you'll be doing one thing, the next day you'll get sucked into a bunch of other stuff. I love it, and can't think of another job I'd rather have - especially working with the group we have now at Scripted.



About the AuthorSunil Rajaraman@SunilRajaraman
Sunil Rajaraman is a Guest writer for Startuptimes.in . He is the Co-Founder at Scripted and passionate about Startups & Technology


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